Tell Congress to Permanently Repeal the Global Gag Rule

In January 2009, President Obama overturned the Global Gag Rule, a US policy that restricted foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive US family planning funds from using their own, non-US funds to provide legal abortion services, advocate for abortion law reform in their own countries, or even provide accurate medical counseling or referrals regarding abortion. The Global Democracy Promotion Act (H.R. 4879/S. 311), introduced by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), would permanently repeal this dangerous policy. A permanent repeal is necessary to ensure that US-funded organizations can continue to implement policies that meet the needs of women and families around the world.

The Global Gag Rule is a symbol to the world of how American foreign policy is swayed by powerful religious interest groups who view foreign policy funding as a vehicle by which to inject religious values into international affairs.

Since President Reagan introduced the gag rule in 1984, it has symbolized how the Religious Right has manipulated federal policy to promote their religious values and deny woman the health care services and information they rightfully need and deserve. The global gag rule prohibits a woman from knowing her medical options under the guise that to allow her comprehensive information and care would encourage what some religious groups deem to be immoral actions and behaviors. No Congress or President should be telling women overseas or in the U.S. what medical choices they should be allowed to make. By prohibiting federal funds from being directed to hospitals, clinics and non-governmental organizations that provide comprehensive reproductive information and services, they are using American taxpayers to mandate “moral” behavior and messaging based on the views of some specially privileged religious groups. 

For the past ten years, the Global Democracy Promotion Act has been introduced for the purpose of repealing the Global Gag Rule. This year must be different. For the first time we have a president who supports the repeal of the Global Gag Rule—a rule the prevents all non-governmental organizations which receive federal funding for overseas projects from providing full and accurate medical information to those they serve—and we have a Congress with the votes to pass a permanent repeal to this rule. But the window to get this legislation repealed is closing. We need you to contact your members of Congress in both the House and the Senate and urge them to co-sponsor this year’s version of the Global Democracy Promotion Act (H.R. 4879 and S. 311).

It’s critical that we show leadership in the House and Senate that the American public no longer will stand for taxpayer dollars to be restricted to organizations that agree not to provide abortion services, counsel on the option of abortion or emergency contraception, refer patients to other abortion providers, or lobby for abortion legalization in their countries.

It is time that Congress permanently repeals this gag rule, so no matter who is in the Oval Office, federal funds can go to hospitals and clinics that provide comprehensive reproductive information and services, rather than only to those that restrict informing women of all their choices and rights. 

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